Takoma Park, MD – A dozen national organizations, joined by 68 state and local grassroots groups from across the country, filed comments to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday expressing strong opposition to the risks inherent in the proposed high-level radioactive waste dumpsite targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada and its associated waste transport plans through 45 states. This marks the latest effort by dump opponents – some of whom have been active against the Yucca dump for nearly three decades – as the DOE has pledged to file its long-delayed construction and operating license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by June 30, 2008.

“The Bush administration’s rash rush to begin the Yucca licensing proceeding is a blatant attempt to make the dump a done deal before the next, potentially anti-dump, President enters the White House,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, a national watchdog on nuclear power and radioactive waste issues.

The dozen national groups which filed the comments include Beyond Nuclear, Clean Water Action, Environment America, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Greenpeace, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, SUN DAY Campaign, and Women’s Action for New Directions. The 68 regional and local groups represent 27 states.

“Shipping tens of thousands of high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges through 45 states and the District of Columbia risks severe accidents and terrorist attacks,” said Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “This could release catastrophic amounts of deadly radioactivity in major population centers, representing potential Mobile Chernobyls and dirty bombs on wheels rolling past the homes of millions of Americans,” Kamps added.

The coalition also urged that DOE must thoroughly analyze the negative impact on property values along all road, rail, and waterway routes across the continental United States that would be used to ship wastes to Yucca. Its submission stated “Courts, juries, and socio-economic studies have found that property values decrease significantly near declared radioactive waste transport routes. DOE must identify in detail all routes it plans to use for shipping wastes to Yucca…and should hold hearings in every state thus impacted.”

Besides transport risks, the coalition exposed geological and environmental justice “show stoppers” at the Yucca Mountain Project.

“DOE’s Yucca plans are so half-baked that they proposed locating a high-level radioactive waste storage facility directly above an earthquake fault line,” Kamps pointed out. “DOE has known for over a decade that rainwater percolates relatively quickly through the proposed burial site, risking fast corrosion of the waste burial containers and release of catastrophic amounts of deadly radioactivity into the drinking and agricultural irrigation water supply below,” Kamps added.  

The coalition also warned DOE that all of the land at the Yucca Mountain dump project is within the treaty lands of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, as affirmed by the "Peace and Friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed by the U.S. government in 1863. Thus, the proposed dumpsite violates environmental justice principles, an allegation supported by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.